PC gaming hardware has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise stale global PC market that continues to trend south. According to a recent report from Jon Peddie Research, the market for gaming computers, upgrades and accessories exceeded $30 billion in 2016 for the first time ever.
Such news should give any serious gamer or hardware enthusiast a reason to celebrate although as PC Gamer's Tuan Nguyen points out, the current state of the PC gaming industry certainly doesn't appeal to all.
Nguyen takes issue with the fact that key characteristics like comfort, efficiency, quality and overall usability take a back seat to ridiculous, over-the-top design elements that, in certain instances, are a detriment to performance.
At what point did RGB lighting, non-ergonomic designs, gaudy paint jobs, inefficient cooling and other gimmicky features become more marketable - and thus, warrant a higher price tag - than, you know, hardware that's powerful and to-the-point? Indeed, "simple" and "efficient" aren't terms you will find in the PC gaming hardware glossary.
As Nguyen argues, is this what gamers really want?
While I agree with Nguyen's opinion that most modern PC gaming hardware is tasteless, the industry is going to gravitate towards what brings in the most sales. If Joe Peddie Research's report is accurate, sales in the PC gaming genre are booming so why deviate away from a proven strategy?
Simply put, gaudy or not, the current crop of over-the-top PC gaming products are flashy for a reason: they're attention-grabbing. It's all about drawing attention to one's self. People crave attention. It's why people go out of their way to portray themselves in the best - or sometimes, the worse (for the same reason) - possible light on social media. It's why Twitch and YouTube Gaming are so popular. People love to show off. Attention subconsciously makes people feel important. It's human nature; it always has been and it always will be.
Indeed, it's all one big cycle really. At some point, things will go so far to the extreme that minimalistic design will eventually stand out as unique. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at some point, a sleeper PC with cutting-edge hardware crammed into a non-descript box will be what people desire.
But hey, you know what? Who cares what other people think. It's your hardware, your case, your build. Buy whatever keyboard, mouse, monitor or case you want. As long as it puts a smile on your face and can play whatever games you want, that's all that matters.
Lead image courtesy Wipspeed, Imgur